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Trip in Greece mainland and islands

Hi!
My wife and I (60 and 66 years old) are planning an itinerary in Greece during  September 2020, if not May 2021.
We will take the time we need to appreciate the places to visit.

We will rent a car at the airport of Thessaloniki (morning arrival),  to Kastoria  and on the way , we would like to visit  vergina, maybe Edessa  with an overnight in nymfaio, if it's worth spending the night (1 night).

During a stay in Kastoria (3 nights), we plan to visit the prespa lakes during the day, some people recommend spending the night there (1 night).

After kastoria, we will visit ioannina (2 nights) and (3 nights) in the villages zagoria.

Then 2 nights in Parga and on the way back to the Meteors, I plan to visit Sivota with an overnight  in Metsovo (1 night).

Then the Meteors (2 nights).

Back to Thessaloniki to return the car and spend 2 nights to visit the city.

Total (15 nights).

After that there are 4 options: 

First option:

        -Bus from Thessaloniki to Volos and then the ferry to skopelos (5 nights) Alonissos (1 night) and skiathos ( 3 nights).  Return home from Skhiathos via Athens airport.

      Second option:

-Flight from Thessaloniki to Ahens airport, car rental for a 10 days stay at the Peloponnese (1 night at Paralia Epidavros to visit the theater, 1 night at poros island, 1 night in Nafplion that I visited before or stay the 3 nights at Nauploe as a base.

Then Pylos (3 nights), Koroni (2 nights), visit of ancient Messina and 1 night in Kalamata before returning to Athens.

Third option:

Flight from Thessaloniki to Lesbos for 10 days.

Fourth option: 

Flight to Athens airport, ferry to Syros (3 nights, Amorgos (4 nights) and Astypalea 3 (nights).

And flight from Astypalea.

We love nature, visiting beautiful villages and charming ports with lively nightlife  ( i mean sitting on terraces of cafes, restaurants, ) romantic walks along lakes, sea and rivers, visiting archeological and historical sites, swimming, etc.) So the first concern is not to stay all the day in the beach .We want to.move and explore new places and go to the beach for one or  two hours if lovely beaches , and to take place the afternoon in charnant bars ,cafes with jazz or greek  music and a stunning view over the sea.
​​​​​​​Thank you in advance

Posted by
1220 posts

Thessaloniki to Athens is about 4 hours by train, so I wouldn't bother flying between the cities.

Posted by
41 posts

It is a good idea ( about 5 hours as it appears on the train timetable ) , the same time to spend if i choose to fly and it is less expensive.
With this option , i will rent a car in Athens center to reach the peloponnese , or if i choose to go to syros amorgos and astypalea,it will be easy to go from Athens city to Piraeus and the ferry to syros ,only 2 hours (departure at 07h:00 am and arrival at 09: 00) better than a flight to the airport and from there i have to wait untill the aftetnoon to reach the ferry from Pirareus to Syros.
And what do you think about the first itinerary in the north?Any suggestions ?

Posted by
1220 posts

And what do you think about the first itinerary in the north?Any
suggestions ?

I'm not sure I have any opinions on it, my knowledge about Greece and especially the north of the country is limited.

Posted by
8 posts

The first scenario has great places to visit but you must have in mind that not all roads are easy to take especially at Zagorohoria and from Parga to Meteora.
The third scenario is also pretty good but I think you should choose Naxos instead of Syros. Naxos has a better nature and bar restaurants like the ones you talk about.
About Peloponesse I think that you have a lot of nights in Pylos. You could add a couple of nights to Gyrheion and visit Mystras, Areopoli and Limeni from there.

Posted by
41 posts

Thank you Pesma for your reply.

1) From Parga to Meteora (First option ) ,i will take the motorway ,because i read on the forum that the old road is very windy and necessits a long time to drive, even though if it offers picturesque scenes .In addition , i will have an overnight in Metsovo before to continue to Meteora.What do you think?

2) - Concerning the Peloponnese (Second option) i have visited , Mani ,Laconia ,Monemvasia,Areopoli,Limeni Kardamyli,...
I will be greateful if you have any other suggestion or any modification to make on this option or the others.

3)- For the islands in the cyclades (Syros,Amorgos and Astypalea (the fourth option) i opted for Syros because i have visited before Naxos ,Paros Mykonos,Sifnos ,Folegandros ,Santorini and Tinos.
What you porpose instead of Syros (Pethaps Ios ,which had become a lively and charming destination not only for youngs but for all ages?

I had also Milos in mind .However ، It seems that apart from its natural beauty, its beaches and its beautiful rock formations, there is not much to discover and explore, Maybe i am wrong!

Posted by
2895 posts

My husband and I were in northern Greece in 2018 and really enjoyed visiting that area as it's a less traveled region of the country. There are many opportunities for hiking, visiting to archaeological sites, and exploring coastal villages. We rented a car and focused on the north - we did not travel to the islands. We flew to Thessaloniki from Atlanta. Here's our itinerary with hotels:

Thessaloniki - 3 nights - Electra Palace Hotel. Stopped in Vergina on the way to Kastoria.

Kastoria - 2 nights - Hotel - Venetula's Mansion. Walk around lake and town. Very nice, new Byzantine Museum. Saturday market by the lake. Many churches with frescoes.

Metsovo - 2 nights - Aroma Dryos Hotel - Tossizza Museum, Averoff Art Museum, Moni Agiou Nikolaou.

Ioanniana - 3 nights - It's Kale Hotel - Daytrip to Zagori/Vikos Gorge from here. Stone bridges near Kipi. Northern region-lunch in Makrinitsa (mushroom pie).

Afissos - 4 nights - Agnatni Hotel Apartments - Visited Saturday Market in Argalasti. Daytrip to southern coastal area through Horto, Milina, Trikeri, lunch at Agia Kyriaki. This was a good base for exploring Pelion Region. Milies--16th century frescoes in Agios Taziarhis and Library with local artifacts. Drive north to Tasgarada, Agios Ioannis, Damouhari - difficult to access but stunningly beautiful coastal villages.

Litochoro - 2 nights - for a good view of Mt. Olympus - Zenios Dias Hotel. Daytrip to Dion and lunch in coastal village.

Kavala - 3 nights - Old Town Inn - Daytrip to Phillipi 26 minutes north.

Thessaloniki - 3 more nights!

We really enjoyed this trip!

Best wishes as you plan for yours!

Cheers!

Posted by
41 posts

Hi Sharon

I am really grateful for sending me the details of your trip to Greece and i would like to thank you for all the information mentionned for every place you visited .I am very happy because it was quite the same i would like to realise . Your itinerary will help me a lot for the routes you followed ,the hotels you selected and the markets days in kastoria and in the Pelion and to make that Saturday is the market day either in Kastoria or in the Pelion .

I woukd like to ask you some other information if possible :

1) Are you satisfied with all the hotels you stayed in?

2) If you had to review some stages of your trip, would you have kept the same program and the number of days devoted to each step or you would have liked to introduce some changes?

3) Are you satisfied to have spent only one day in Zagoria or would you have liked to stay there for two nights?

4 ) Is ioannina worth visit for more than one night?

5)- Is Metsovo worth to stay in during 2 nights or one night would have been enough?

6) Do you think that Afissos is a nice village to take as a base to visit the pelion? Is it a lively town ,especially at night ?
Would you have liked to choose another village among the ones you visited during your stay in the Pelion?
And Would you have liked to divide your stay at the Pelion between Afissos and Tsagarada ( 3 days in Afissos and 2 days in Tsagarada for example )

7) Are you happy with your stay in Litochoro and Kavala.Did you really like these two places, Kavala especially ?

8) Are the roads good between Thessaloniki and Kastoria and between Kastoria and Metsovo ?
Thank you in advance
Riadhou

Posted by
2895 posts

1) Are you satisfied with all the hotels you stayed in?

Yes, we were satisfied with all of the hotels that we stayed in. Some were a bit hard to find - Agnatni Hotel Apartments in Afissos and Venetula's Mansion in Kastoria as examples. Finding a parking space wasn't easy but that applies to all. Kavala is not a touristy area and there are not so many hotels. The Old Town Inn is small and charming but it's right in the city center and sometimes noisy at night. Some of these are small hotels and may be closed now.

We love Thessaloniki and the Electra Palace Hotel is right in the city center. I think it's be renovated since we were there. It's a bit of a splurge but we like it very much.

I use Booking.com to research hotels.

I also use Trip Advisor for help in planning itineraries and Google Maps and Rome2Rio to plan driving routes.

2) If you had to review some stages of your trip, would you have kept the same program and the number of days devoted to each step or you would have liked to introduce some changes?

We like this itinerary and would do it again. This is a difficult region to plan for as there are so many possibilities. We plan to return one day to explore more.

3) Are you satisfied to have spent only one day in Zagoria or would you have liked to stay there for two nights?

A day trip to Zagoria from Ioanniana was good for us. If you really like hiking, you will probably want to chose one of the villages and hike from there. The villages are small and the area is remote. We especially wanted to see the Vikos Gorge and we did some hiking there but did not hike into the gorge.

4 ) Is ioannina worth visit for more than one night?

I liked Ioanniana and especially our hotel called It's Kale. There is a new Silver Museum there and sites of Ali Pasha. We try to avoid one-night stays but one or two nights there would be enough.

5)- Is Metsovo worth to stay in during 2 nights or one night would have been enough?

I also really liked Metsovo - 2 nights there is good too but if you have limited time, one night is ok.

6) Do you think that Afissos is a nice village to take as a base to visit the pelion? Is it a lively town ,especially at night ?
Would you have liked to choose another village among the ones you visited during your stay in the Pelion?
And Would you have liked to divide your stay at the Pelion between Afissos and Tsagarada ( 3 days in Afissos and 2 days in Tsagarada for example )

We liked Afissos but it's very small and quiet (not lively) - our apartment had a balcony with a nice view of the sea. The hotel was difficult to access as the drive was narrow and one-way. The beautiful area around Tsagarada is a bit hard to access too as the roads there are narrow and winding. I'm not sure that it would make a good base for day trips. I'd do more research to decide what might work best for you.

For beach scenes, a local recommended Halkidiki (or Chalkidiki). We drove through the region but did not stay there. It might be a region to explore if you're interested in beach villages.

If you haven't been to Meteora, you should spend a night or 2 near there to see the monasteries. Friends liked Hotel Tsikeli.

7) Are you happy with your stay in Litochoro and Kavala.Did you really like these two places, Kavala especially ?

I was especially interested in seeing Mt. Olympus but otherwise, there is not a lot to do in Litochoro. You could skip it. We liked Kavala quite a lot but it's not touristy. We also used it as a base to see the archaeological sites at nearby Phillipi. If you have limited time, you might decide to skip Kavala.

8) Are the roads good between Thessaloniki and Kastoria and between Kastoria and Metsovo ?
The roads are good - I don't remember any issues driving on the main highways. In the beach areas and small mountain villages, the roads can be winding and narrow at times.

Posted by
41 posts

Hi Sharon
I am sorry for the effort you have made to answer all my questions and for the time you have devoted to this. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I am pleasantly surprised that you enjoyed staying in Thessaloniki and in all the other places you visited .
I forgot to ask you when you have realised your itinerary in the north of greece ? Do you think that the best time to visit this region is between May and June?

Posted by
2895 posts

Greetings Riadhou,

Writing responses to your questions made me happy! I felt like I was reliving our trip - especially since we are not able to travel right now.

We were in Northern Greece in 2018 - travel dates were from April 16 - May 10. It was a really nice time to be there though the beaches were quiet and there were a few chilly days - it was mostly springtime weather. I think that either September or May would be very nice. May would probably be perfect though maybe still cool for the beach.

I lead tours at an archaeological museum and the curator of the Greek collection said that the northern area is his favorite part of Greece - that's one reason for our plan and we were not disappointed.

Best wishes,

Sharon